(Chris Wiegand’s article appeared in the Guardian, 4/28/2023; via Pam Green; Photo: Transatlantic tragedy … Kenneth Branagh. Photograph: Johan Persson.)
The play, which the actor has described as being pertinent to our ‘savage and judgmental’ political climate, will run for 50 performances in the West End before transferring to the US
Kenneth Branagh is to star as King Lear in a production that he will also direct in London and New York.
The play will run for 50 performances at Wyndham’s theatre in the West End from October and then transfer to the Shed’s Griffin theatre in the US in autumn 2024.
It is produced by the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company (KBTC) which presented a season of seven plays at the Garrick theatre in London from 2015-16 including John Osborne’s The Entertainer with Branagh in the lead role. In 2017, Branagh directed Tom Hiddleston as Hamlet in a limited-run production to raise funds for Rada. In 2021, KTBC’s planned production of The Browning Version by Terence Rattigan, starring and directed by Branagh, was cancelled due to Covid-related absences during rehearsals.
Branagh, who played Edgar opposite Richard Briers’ Lear in a 1990 touring production of Shakespeare’s tragedy, said in a 2019 interview that King Lear has a “sense of contained outrage by previously voiceless people” that remains pertinent in the modern political climate. The play, he added, explores a “tremendous lack of forgiveness … that is perhaps also something that our world is experiencing – a savage and judgmental and instant and violent division”.